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Masters Week: Course Review by a Hacker

You’ve all seen the course on TV. I’m fortunate enough to have walked the grounds many times. Here’s what I say about the most iconic holes in golf.

Masters Preview - Day 3 Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

A course review. For Augusta National. While every one of us wants to play it, we already know the holes by heart. Because The Masters is the most watched golf tournament on TV in the world, has been for quite some time, and will be probably for the eternity of television. So why would anyone care about my take, when they’ve seen it hundreds of times? I don’t know either, but MaconDawg is a site editor made from Old Testament cloth, and he demands sacrifice. Here’s how I “imagine” my golf game when applied to these hallowed grounds:

#1, Tea Olive, par 4, 445 yards.
Not exactly a Donald Ross “warm handshake” to welcome you to the Masters, but it isn’t the hardest hole either. Avoid the right bunker, and the trees left, oh and the greenside bunkers. Edges of the greens have mounds and slick as heck. The Tea Olives must be on the far right where patrons can’t go. This has “5” written all over it.

#2, Pink Dogwood, par 5, 575 yards.
The dogwoods are in the trees on the left. I’d try a draw off the right fairway bunker, would probably block it right instead, and have to pitch down the bottom of the hill. A receptive green, but not very deep. I’m thinking I par this one depending on if I can get out of the trees.

#3 Flowering Peach, par 4, 350 yards.
Pros take 5 iron off the tee, but I would stick with hybrid or 3 wood. Uphill dogleg right to elevated green. I see me chunking my wedge and having to pitch onto the elevated green, and probably 3-whacking it. Double bogey.

#4, Flowering Crabapple, par 3, 240 yards.
I’m 3 over and you give me a 240 yard par 3? I try to choke down a 3 wood, because short won’t do it if the pin is up top. There is shrubbery lurking all around, so no telling how I screw this one up. The Sunday pin lower left would give me a triple, but I think I double-bogey this one.

#5, Magolia, par 4, 455 yards.
I try the same driver draw off the tee as #2, but double-cross into the fairway bunkers or worse. Green and surrounding area is fairly flat, so I think I can escape with a 5.

#6, Juniper, par 3, 180 yards.
Tee is way elevated, but green is too. No way I hit this green, so I’m pitching onto the putting surface. The tiers on this green are seriously crazy. Putting uphill is so slow you have to have a hip turn, and downhill is slicker than your bathtub. Putting is my weakness - triple bogey 6.

#7, Pampas, par 4, 450 yards.
Straight-away to an elevated green. Extremely tight fairway. So I’m hitting a recovery shot short of the green. Whoa - this green is elevated more than I thought. A crisp wedge with some spin is called for. I’d pay money for a 2 putt. A benevolent bogey.

#8, Yellow Jasmine, par 5, 570 yards
Whereas #2 was downhill, this par 5 is payback. Long uphill, dogleg right off the tee, dogleg left to the green. Which you can’t see until you’re about 350 yards in. I’m hitting driver, 3 wood, and probably still have 100+ left just because it’s uphill. The green is very, very deep, but not wide, and mounds on every stinking side. I saw 2 eagles here in ‘86, but I ain’t doing that. I’ll walk away with 6 even with no water and no penalty.

#9, Carolina Cherry, par 4, 460 yards.
Downhill off the tee, slight dogleg left. You’re trying to see how far down the hill you can get it, otherwise it’s a downhill lie to an elevated green going away from you right to left. Hitting this green seems impossible. Oh, and the false front rolls your ball back down the fairway like 30 yards. Above the hole is death. I’ll take double and consider myself lucky.

#10, Camellia, par 4, 495 yards.
Holy crap this is a big hole! Wide as anything, so you can cut, draw, pull, push, whatever you want and probably still hit off grass. A few level spots, but not where I hit it, so a downhill hybrid trying to lift it in the air. Short of the green by about 100 yards are a set of fairway bunkers the size of Rabun County (perfect for catching thin 2nd shots hit from those downhill lies). The green is elevated, but left of green runs down into the trees and azaleas are on the right. Sloped green but nothing horrible, so if I can get on in 3, I can probably bogey.

#11, White Dogwood, par 4, 505 yards.
The start of Amen Corner used to be somewhat benign, but they moved the tees back a good 60 yards and actually created a dogleg. I’ll try to start it down the middle with a baby fade into the sloping fairway. But now a downhill 2nd shot, with a pond short left and tons of room to bail out to the right. I will bail out with a 3 iron (I tend to cut it anway), and I’ve got 40 yards to the pin but with water long and left. My first shank of the day leaves me dropping 5, so I’ll write “7” on my card and buy you a beer later.

#12, Golden Bell, par 3, 155 yards
Green and tee are both somewhat elevated, but Rae’s Creek is below the green and only one bunker to stop the ball from getting wet. My mind says hit 9-iron, but my heart says I’m a fool so I hit 8. Sure enough, long left, chipping downhill onto a green that is pushing my ball back to the creek. I stay dry, but the 2nd chip isn’t close enough to make the putt. I’m okay with 5. What’s a Golden Bell anyway?

#13, Azalea, par 5, 510 yards.
Ha! A par 5 that I can reach in two!! Oh... wait. Pull it left into the creek or the azaleas (there’s hundreds of them over there), or push slice it into the trees right. Crap. Pros sometimes hit 3 wood because it’s a dogleg left. I’m not that long, so I stay with driver and end up in the trees right, punch a 3 iron about 150 yards, well short of... Rae’s Creek again. So I’ve got wedge in my hand, but dang that large green is LARGE. Tug it a bit, and I’ve got a 35 footer that goes uphill, downhill, and breaks about 12 feet left to right. 3 putt is expected, and a bogey gets me back on track.

#14, Chinese Fir, par 4, 440 yards.
Uphill slight dogleg left but the fairway tilts to the right. I don’t have the 3 wood firepower so I’m praying I stay in the grass with my driver. But now I’ve got 180, slightly uphill. I’d rather be short so I hit 5-iron and pull/hook it left. I can chip across the green, but those undulations get me. Double bogey is deflating, but I’m alive.

#15, Firethorn, par 5, 530 yards.
Hot dang.. another short par 5, and downhill to boot! Oh, wait... I have 240 yards to a downhill green that’s faster than my grandmothers kitchen linoleum, and feeds into a pond fronting the green. And behind the green is dead meat, as pitching back and stopping the ball is nigh impossible. Okay, lay up it is. I’m faced again with the dreaded wedge. I think I got this, and I do, and I can par this one.

#16, Redbud, par 3, 170 yards.
So named because - okay, I’ve no idea where the redbuds are on this hole. Anywhoo, I’ve got a 6-iron in my hand. I’m in-between clubs, but short can be wet in the famous pond fronting the green on the left, and I don’t want that. Sure enough, I flare the shot right and faced with putting back down the slope towards the water. I’ll take my 4 and run.

#17, Nandina, par 4, 440 yards.
No Eisenhower’s Tree to contend with, so this is pretty much straight away with driver. I’ve got about 170 left, slightly uphill, but the green slopes away off the back and on all sides. A middle-left pin makes me aim for center of the green, but having to hit it hard leaves me pulling the iron left into the front-left bunker. The pure white sand is perfect - pulverized from a single quarry district in the mountains of western NC. So I’ve got a great lie, but not a great sand game, and I thin it over the green. A chip back on and 2-putt leaves me with double-bogey.

#18, Holly, par 4, 465 yards.
There are some Holly, both on left and right as you come off the tee box. You notice it because you can’t see the end of the dogleg right, playing up the slope of Brasstown Bald. This is long.. probably plays 525 due to elevation alone. Hitting a tee shot out of a chute of trees similar to hitting a driver down a hallway in your house, I come out into spectacular Georgia sunshine but I’m 220 yards away, and in the left-hand fairway bunker. I walk in, and all I see is sky - this thing is DEEP. A 7-iron is all I dare thinking the lip might catch it, and I’m now 60 yards short of the green, still hitting straight uphill. You remember how I tugged a couple of wedges early on? You guessed it, but at least I flew the front-left greenside bunker. A skinny green from this angle, and I’m barely onto the putting surface with my lob wedge. 2 putts later, my double-bogey puts a bow on my round.

So there you have it - a virtual round of golf from someone who might be better than average, played about average for his skill, and somehow managed a 99 on this par 72 slice of heaven. No green jacket, no Cinderella story from a kid outta nowhere. But hey... at least I broke 100, right?